Australia is considering banning all farm-raised fish from the nation’s waters and setting strict rules for the treatment of the animals, the government has said.
The move, which could be announced as early as today, would affect around 70 per cent of the nation´s fish.
More than 100 fish farms and aquaculture facilities have been caught illegally killing fish off Australian shores, with authorities saying they are causing a crisis.
The Federal Government has set up a taskforce to tackle the problem.
It is expected to announce rules to ensure the fish farms are inspected by government agencies, the ABC reported.
Fish farms in Queensland, NSW and Victoria have also been found to be killing the wild populations of salmon, king mackerel and trout, with an estimated 2,000 fish killed every day, the state-owned Queensland Aquaculture Council said.
“These fish are a source of economic and cultural value for the region and are a key resource for local communities,” Queensland Fish Farmers Association president David Macdonald said.
“We believe that if we act quickly to get these farms to stop killing the fish, we can ensure that the region stays economically strong.”
The taskforce will also look at the potential impact on fish farmers, who are struggling to meet a market that has seen the price of fish soar in recent years.
Under the proposed changes, the farmers would have to declare their farm-based operations as such, and could face a fine of up to $100,000 for each fish killed.
Currently, fish farms must obtain a permit to keep fish on Australian waters.
There is currently no federal legislation that allows farmers to kill fish off of their own farms.
A government spokesman said the government was committed to ensuring the best interests of Australian fishery and their local communities were protected.